Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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3o8
GIBRALTAR TOWER
CHAP.
the basement. Upon this foundation was imposed a new building towards the end of the seventeenth century. The park was then known as Bailey Park. A century later, George Augustus Eliott (afterwards Lord Heathfield), the hero of Gibraltar, and earlier of Cuba, acquired it with his Havana prize money. After Lord Heathfield died, in 1790, the park became the property of Francis Newbery, son of the bookseller of St. Paul's Churchyard. The present owner, Mr. Alexander, has added greatly to the house.
Gibraltar Tower, on the highest point of the park, was built by Newbery in honour of his predecessor. From its summit a vast prospect is visible, and forty churches, it is said, may be counted. I saw but few of these. In the east, similarly elevated, is seen the Brightling Needle. Mr. Alexander has gathered together in the tower a number of souvenirs of old English life which make it a Lewes Castle museum in little. Here are stocks, horn glasses, drinking vessels, rushlight holders, leather bottels, and one of those quaint wooden machines for teaching babies to walk. An old manuscript history of the tower, in Mr. Alexander's possession, contains at least one passage that is perhaps worth noting, as it may help to clear up any confusion that exists in connection with Lord Heath-field's marriage. " The lady to whom his lordship meant to be united," says the historian, "and who would certainly have been his wife had not death stepped in, is the sister of a lady of whom his lordship was extremely fond, but she, dying about ten years ago, he transferred his affections to the other, who is about thirty-five years of age."
A Heathfield worthy of a hundred years ago was Sylvan Harmer, chiefly a stone cutter (he cut the stone for the tower), but also the modeller in clay of some very ingenious and pretty bas-relief designs for funeral urns, notably a group known as Charity.
The following scene from The Second Part of Henry VI. although Shakespeare places it in Kent, belongs to a little hamlet known as Cade Street, close to Heathfield :
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